The tradition of Water Puppet Theatre or Mua Roi Nuoc in Vietnamese was started in the eleventh century in the villages in and around the Red River Delta in the north of the country. Nowadays it is a unique variation on the theme of ancient Asian puppet traditions. The puppets themselves are made out of wood and the whole show is performed with the puppeteers waist deep in water and hidden behind screens. Large under-water rods support the puppets, which give the illusion of them gliding over the water. The origins are from when villagers would entertain each other by performing in the rice fields.
The show takes place on a stage of about 4 square yards and the auditorium is small and intimate. The music is provided by a traditional Vietnamese band, playing instruments that are as old as the tradition itself. It all makes for a great atmosphere and a fun show that is particularly enjoyed by children.
The Golden Gragon Water Puppet Theatre is to be found in District 1, at 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai. Right in the heart of the city it is easy to find and well worth a visit. The show is only short, about one hour, and gives a nice look into the cultural history of country folk. Buy your tickets in advance as the shows are often sold out.
There are Water Puppet Theatre productions throughout Vietnam, it is one of the oldest forms of storytelling. It is interesting that in an age of technology, this most ancient form of connecting with people has managed to remain. This is a genuine taste of Vietnamese culture. This delightful show with its brightly coloured puppets is always a great hit with youngsters. It present a rare cultural glimpse into the past and is musical extremely interesting.